I've been even more cynical than usual lately. Law school has reminded me why I liked Holden Caulfield so much in the first place. But it's not only that. It's the entire world. I'm having a hard time perceiving much of anything as real. Yes, I can acknowledge the concrete existence of things. It just seems that societal entities, emotions, and many people are so displaced by the idea of their social function that their actual being is diluted. We're an entire planet of people who go through the motions instead of truly living.
Tonight, I re-read Simulacra and Simulations by Jean Baudrillard, remembering that the essay centered around our modern construction of what is "real." He wrote that a world based on simulation models would lead to "hyperreality", and I'll be damned if that's not what our "reality" is. Essentially, Baudrillard believes that in hyperreality, signs are more flexible than an absolute meaning. Thus, in the hyperreal world, it is futile to simply copy or imitate the signs. Instead, Baudrillard contends that signs of the real are substituted for the real itself. This, in turn, circumvents the “real” processes that once accompanied these signs. Thus, it is not necessary for the real to be produced again. He describes this role as “…the vital function of the model in a system of death.”
Unfortunately, I cannot say that I agree with Baudrillard's proposal of socialism as a solution to hyperreality. He believes that socialism will come as a response to the death of the social. But let's be realistic--so long as the populace is pacified by signs of power, should they not be blind to the fact that it, along with their social world, has disappeared? At this point, society is nowhere near reaching the realization that the social itself, the real, has died. Baudrillard's second and much simpler remedy is the one I have taken to heart. "Reinject realness and referentiality everywhere."